Stages of spiritual growth
We’ve established God’s primary goal for our spiritual lives - to make us more like Christ. A newborn baby is a complete human being but still some growth and development must occur before he becomes a mature human being; he is physically complete but it will take some years before he becomes physically mature. Likewise our spirits must also go through a growth and development process. At this point it would be wise for us to look at the stages of our spiritual development so we can better understand the growth process. Than we can later focus on what helps and hinders us in our spiritual growth. Again God gives us our physical lives to use as a template to help us gauge the stages of our spiritual growth. So let’s examine those stages.
This is the beginning of our physical life. At this stage a baby relies on the parents to feed him primarily milk. Milk is easy to digest and contains the very basic and essential elements needed for the child to grow strong and healthy. In a similar fashion we start off spiritually where we try to understand foundational principles; that includes things like understanding how God has made us righteous, baptism and eternal judgement (see Hebrews 6:2). This is like drinking milk from our mothers because we are not really skilled in the word of righteousness and are also heavily relying on leaders and ministers to help teach us truth Hebrews 5:13.
As we begin to grow older we move from a crawling baby to a young child who has now learned the skill of walking and running. Our bones are growing bigger and stronger and additionally we're learning better coordination. Spiritually you might say this is the stage when we are beginning to take hold of God’s promises for ourselves. We get help from our leaders and friends but are not solely relying on their council, but rather we are building our own relationship with God. At this stage we may miss a lot and stumble in many things but nonetheless we are still growing and learning to practice righteousness 1 John 3:7, Proverbs 24:16.
This is the physical stage where we are very active. Sport and physical exercise is often big on the agenda. Our bodies are also undergoing intense and very radical changes. Our appetite is big and often we might find ourselves eating much food that’s both good and bad for us. This is the spiritual stage where we are learning to exercise our spiritual muscles. We are beginning to understand more of the gifts God has given us and perhaps a little bit of how He would have us use them 1 Corinthians 12:1. We are also starting to stir up these gifts within ourselves. We understand the importance of God’s promises in building our spiritual lives and we’re getting wiser in our application. 2 Peter1:3.
Here we have advanced in maturity. Our bodies and bones have developed and we’re physically strong. We have long passed the stage of growing on just milk but rather good solid food is in our diet. Physically this is the stage when some young men and women also begin to have children. Spiritually this is the stage when we are taking hold of God’s wisdom and allowing His truth to be sown in refined hearts Proverbs 4:13. We are not ignorant of the devil’s devices and are not taking God’s grace for granted. Our mind is more thoroughly transformed (Romans 12:2) and we are now even beginning to help give birth to other spiritual lives.
At this stage we have fully developed physically. As mature adults our focus is not so much about how much we eat, but that we eat good food and make sure our children, family, friends and neighbours are also well fed. From a spiritual perspective you might say that we are like spiritual fathers; giving birth to others, building them up and restoring them 1 Corinthians 4:15,Ephesians 4:12,Galatians 6:1. Here we are also spiritually mature - we have exercised our senses to discern between both good and evil Hebrews 6:14. We don’t stumble (or at least very rarely) 2 Peter 1:10, James 3:2 and are inheriting God’s promises through our faith and patience Hebrews 6:12. We are walking in God’s love and the fruit of the spirit is evident in our lives Galatians 5:22-23.
This is an overview of the stages of our spiritual development. This will help us to assess where we are and the things that we need to develop to come to spiritual maturity. Please also note that this isn’t set in stone. In our spiritual walk we will all face both crests and valleys, but just so we get an idea of what’s involved this will help us in our understanding.
God bless and protect
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